- Author: Robert J Keiffer
Due to a severe lack of precipitation and low humidity conditions the risk of a rangeland fire is still quite real in Mendocino County. Last Friday, December 13th, there was an accidentally-caused grassland fire just beyond the borders of the UC Hopland Research & Extension Center. CalFire crews and the Hopland Fire District crew were able extinguish the flames rather quickly and hold the fire footprint to about one acre.
Incredibly, the fire took place in December and after dark ... a time of year and and time of day which, under normal conditions, one would not be able to set a wildlife with a blowtorch.
Under the current range conditions the fire probably did more good than harm ... clearing off the old duff layer to allow better sunlight penetration and warm the top soil a very slight bit, release some phosphorus, and hopefully ready the range for the next "bank" of ungerminated seeds to respond to that future storm. However, the next day showed that air quality suffered as the smoke layer hung low in the valley for quite some time.